The Hardest & Holiest of Days
There was a different post scheduled for today, but then life happened. My grandfather went home to be with Jesus and those difficult days played out slowly and beautifully, shaking up our souls in the most glorious of ways.
I am not ready to write about it quite yet, but I can tell you this: our lives will never be the same because of a preacher from Midfield, Alabama who gave everything he had to follow Jesus and to love people. And our lives will never be the same because of his last eight hours in a hospital room one Saturday in February.
I read the following at my Papa’s burial and celebration service, which I hope gives you a tiny glimpse of his wonderful life:
Dr. Alvin Douglas Sager. Thousands knew him as their pastor. Most knew him as "Brother Doug." But I simply knew him as "Papa." When I first sat down to write about him, I was overwhelmed because there are no words that could possibly sum up his life or describe the depth of his impact on our family or on our world.
So, I will take a page from Papa’s book and just focus on the one.
When I was little, Mimi and Papa would visit us in Birmingham and Mimi would take me to get manicures. One time specifically, I was determined to get stick-on plastic diamonds on my nails (no doubt, influenced by Mimi). Later that day, the whole family went to eat barbecue at Johnny Ray’s. At some point during the meal, I looked down to notice that one of the fake diamonds had fallen off my nail. I panicked and started looking for it, all around the floor and under the table.
As I was searching, I noticed Papa stop and get down to help me search for that one plastic and meaningless diamond.
Like the shepherd seeking his lost sheep.
Like the person seeking the lost coin.
Like Jesus seeking each one of us.
And it was not meaningless, because this is just one of the many times when Papa lived out the gospel—he met us where we were and said, “I am going to be right here with you, and I am going to help you find what you’ve been looking for all this time.”
It has been said that “people will forget what you said and they will forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
But I am not sure this is the case here. Because when it comes to our Papa, we will quote the wise and silly things he said. We will try to emulate the selfless things he did. And we could never possibly forget how he made us feel: loved, secure, and valued beyond measure.
As we continue to grieve the loss of this great man we all knew and loved, it has truly been the hardest and holiest of days. I do not know what God is up to, but I know who God is. And He is a good Father whose timing is perfect. This truth has been proven time and time again, most recently by the life of Papa—in the fact that I was given the beautiful blessing of being his granddaughter and the privilege of walking with him until he reached the gates of glory.
Hallelujah, Papa is home.
And all of heaven rejoices.
In loving memory of Doug Sager